James had a twinkle in his eyes, a great sense of humor and a strict sense of honor, especially to his God, family and country. He was a typical teenager, full of life and forsaw a great future as he married his high school sweetheart a year after graduation from school. James and LaVern had no children, but they were surrounded by a huge family, extended family and a multitude of friends.
He heard the call of his country,leaving his young bride to brave the dangers of war and served with pride. He faced the enemy of freedom and died with honor.
While on duty patrolling a bridge near Saigon, Vietnam, he and a buddy (SP4 James A. Spencer, Gaffney, SC) were ambushed and killed. His final resting place is in Grove Hill Cemetery, Dallas, Texas.
I would be honored to hear from anyone who knew or served with James, especially on the day of his death or who were with him.
From his brother,
3627 Middlefield St., Dallas, Texas 75253-3210
27 Oct 2002
14 Sep 2005
We look forward to hearing from anyone who knew or served with James.
From his brother and sister-in-law,
Joe and Jo Autrey
3627 Middlefield Street, Dallas, Texas 75253-3210
James Autrey (third from left, first row) and his Platoon graduate from Basic Training.
This is a letter from James Harold Autrey to his family, dated February 7, 1969. It is in the possession of his brother, Joe E. Autrey, Dallas, Texas. No corrections of any type have been made.
7 Feb 1969
How's all the good guys doing? I got your letter yesterday and was glad to hear from you. I'm glad that Pop finally got some glasses and hope he wears them. Has he been going hunting lately? I've been in the field since I got to my company and hope I stay in the field. We haven't had to walk any today and I'm not to tired. I wonder what your doing and how you feel. Did Judy & Larry have a nice wedding? Did they get to go anywhere for a honeymoon. I just no that they'll have a great time together. Are you still going to church at South Buckner First Baptist? I wrote LaVerne 2 letters yesterday. It's hard to think of things to say. I've been playing cards and reading my New Testament. I've already read about 40 pages. Listen to the news and you might hear about the 82d on T.V. We've been in a little action but, not much. Sometimes it seems like the time goes by fast and then sometimes the day drags by. I've been getting plenty to eat and water to drink. I have to carry everything on my back. I carry about 90 lbs on my back and I think I'm getting used to it. I'll try to write as often as possible. We have to dig a hole every night large enough for five people.
I'll be glad when I get to come home and enjoy to Cold glasses of Tea and eat some of your good home cooking. I eat a lot of meatballs with beans and spagetti with sauce. I have pound cake and pecan cake too.
We've been on this operation 17 days. I haven't shave or even taken a bath. You finally get use to your smell. Well, I'll go for now so be good and may God watch over you.
Love Always, James
P.S. Send some Kool-Aid
This is the last letter James Harold Autrey wrote to his family, Easter Sunday, 1969. He would be killed in an ambush only a matter of days later. This letter is in the possession of his brother, Joe E. Autrey, Dallas Texas. No corrections of any type have been made. This is a handwritten letter.
How's the gang doing? Hope your feeling good and hope you stay that way. I was really worried for a while but, now not so much.
I got your letter today and am glad to hear from you. Mom I no you goring to church now every Sunday as do me a favor. That is make sure Midi goes with you every Sunday. Don't let her put it off for any reason. Just tell her that your her boss too and she is going with you. I got Mike's address but I can't understand what Unit he's in. Tell Brother Sims and Mrs. Sims I drop him a few lines every now and then. I don't think he is very from me because his APO number is 96226 and mine is 96228. Find out if he is around Saigon or not. I'm happy to hear that Pop has got the spring fever again. As long as I hear he is going fishing I no he's in good health and doing fine. Tell him that Mr. Mitchell (my other Pop) has been working on a fishing barge and that Pop should go fishing with him sometime. I no they'll both enjoy it very much. Oh yea!
Hows all my sisters in love doing? I think they must have broke their writing hand. You'll have to talk to those girls for me and get them to write a few lines every now and then.
Did the good guys, I mean Molly, Gene & Freddy enjoy their Easter Vacation? It sure was nice to get a whole week. Mom always keep this thought in your mind. God is watching over me always and I do have a great faith in Him. Also don't be worried if I don't get to write real often, because I do have my job to do here and it keeps me pretty busy. Today just doesn't seem like Easter Sunday at all. Back in the world (US) everyone would go to church and then have a big Easter Egg Hunt. I remember the good old days when we would all get together and have a real great time.
Well, Mom, my first three months have passed fast enough, just hope the next three are the same way. I'll let you go now so be good and go to church.
God Bless & Keep you safe
Love always, James
P.S. As long as you write just one page, I am happy. So keep doing it. Just hope this war ends before Gene & Freddy have to enter the Army. I really hope they don't have to go into the Army at all .
SGT. James H. Autrey
Funeral services, with full military rites, for Sgt. James Harold Autrey, 21, of 8406 Old Homestead Drive, will be conducted at 3 p.m. Monday at Dudley M. Hughes Buckner Chapel with the Rev. Roy G. Sims officiating. Burial will be in Grove Hill Memorial Park.
Sgt. Autrey, a Dallas resident most of his life, was killed in action in Vietnam Monday.
Born in Maud, he was a 1966 graduate of H. Grady Spruce High School.
He entered the Army in January, 1968, and had been stationed in Vietnam for four months.
Survivors, all of Dallas, include his wife, Mrs. Sammy LaVern Autrey; parents, Mr. and Mrs. Willie Autrey; five brothers, Billy Autrey, Bobby Autrey, Joe Autrey, Freddie Autrey, and Gene Autrey; two sisters, Mrs. Judy Howell and Miss Mollie Autrey; and grandfather, Charlie M. Beasley.
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY|
HEADQUARTERS 3D BRIGADE 82D AIRBORNE DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96228
Mr. and Mrs. Willie E. Autrey
May 21, 1969
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Autrey,
I extend to you my deepest sympathy on the recent loss of your son, Sergeant James H. Autrey.
The loss of a loved one always brings a feeling of loneliness and grief to those who are bereaved.
I know that it will not be easy for you to accept this loss, but I pray that the realization your son, James, died in the service of his country will lessen the pain and fill you with a sense of pride.
Appropriate ministrations were given and a memorial service was held for your son.
Once again, personally and for the officers and enlisted men of this command, please accept this expression of our sympathy in the loss of your son, James.
ATTILIO A. PONSIGLIONE
Chaplin (LTC), USA